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Striking Issues Surface in China E-Bike Dumping Case

Laws & Regulations

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Yesterday a hearing held by the European Commission in Brussels took place during which representatives from the Chinese industry presented their defence in the on-going anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations of e-bikes imported from China. Next to specifics on the current EU investigation also some striking issues came to light in a press meeting on the hearing held afterwards.

Striking Issues Surface in China E-Bike Dumping Case
CCCME Director Chen Huiqing and China Bicycle Association‘s Director Song Bo pleaded in defence of China’s e-bike industry. – photo Bike Europe

At the EU Commission’s hearing representatives from the China Chamber of Commerce for Imports and Exports of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) pleaded in the defence of the Chinese e-bike industry. Director Chen Huiqing said at the afterwards held press meeting that some 100 Chinese e-bike manufacturers and exporters are cooperating with the European Commission in its investigation on alleged dumping by the Chinese. These companies have filled in the Commission’s questionnaires and cooperated in on-spot investigations. However, in other parts of the investigation the Chinese weren’t that accommodating.

Confidential export data

What is perhaps the most striking fact that came to light at yesterday’s afternoon press meeting on the hearing is that there’s no official Chinese data on its e-bike export to Europe. What was said here is that the Chinese government regards this export data as confidential. With that there’s no data to counter-argue what is being brought forward by the European Bicycle Manufacturers’ Association (EBMA). The association claims that stockpiling is taking place currently in Europe by importers of China made e-bikes. According to EBMA in the period of November 2017 to February 2018 imports increased by 180 to 215%. EBMA refers to two sources for this import data; Chinese Customs as well as Eurostat. As far as the Chinese Customs source goes; earlier EBMA stated that it is conducting its own e-bike export research through a team in place in China. For Eurostat data the Association claims that since January 1, 2017 more accurate import (CN) codes for e-bikes are in place that better track that import.

No access to data

The lack of access to official and verifiable e-bike export data was brought forward as a ‘critical issue’ by the law firm that represents the Chinese industry in this alleged dumping case. James Searles, partner at Steptoe & Johnson said “Normally we have access to data. That’s not the case here.” With that he pointed to the source of the Chinese Customs data brought forward by EBMA. That source is said to be confidential. Furthermore, it is said that Eurostat data is contaminated as it is not only registering e-bike imports.

As for a key part of what has been brought forward by the Chinese delegation on their defence at the Commission’s hearing, is that there’s no cost difference between making e-bikes in China or in Europe. In particular as components make up over 80% of that costs while the costs for assembly are the same for China and for Europe. With that there can be no price undercutting by the Chinese industry.

More key elements in defence of Chinese industry

Other key elements brought forward for the defence of the Chinese industry include:

  • Chinese producers deny allegations of dumping and causing injury to the EU industry; The choice of Switzerland as analogue country is inappropriate and does not provide for a fair comparison for calculation of dumping: there are fundamental differences between China and Switzerland regarding the level of economic development, cost of production, and e-bike market segment (Switzerland mostly sells high-end e-bikes, which are not the focus of the Chinese exports);
  • The imposition of duties would harm large parts the European industry which is dependent on imports of parts from China, as well as European consumers by reducing choice and driving prices up, impeding the development of clean mobility and efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the EU;
  • Recent figures from the EU industry show that production and sales revenues from e-bikes have been constantly growing over the past years, making the existence of material injury highly implausible.
  • The eligibility of some of the companies supporting the complaint is in doubt, as the “EU e-bikes industry” counts importers of the products under investigation
  • Unlike other trade complaints, there is no overcapacity in China’s e-bike industry: export volumes are customised and based on the EU demand, while more than 95% of China’s e-bikes are sold to the domestic market.

E-bike import registration

The CCCME is also arguing against a Commission order of registration of imports which might come in the next weeks and “Would stifle demand and drive up prices for consumers.”

Already next week the European Commission could announce further measures like registration on the import of e-bikes from China. However, it could also take more time for the Commission to decide on such measures. Statutorily they have to announce its decision on the registration of imports as well the imposition of provisional anti-dumping measures before July 20. The definitive judgement by the European Commission in this e-bike dumping case must take place on 15 January, 2019.

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